By Angela Atkinson

Besides reducing your ability to perform and increasing your risk of making mistakes (sometimes fatal ones), sleep deprivation has been blamed for issues including things such as memory loss and cognitive impairment, depression, relationship stress, various kinds of injuries and generally a lower quality of life.

And not only can a lack of sleep affect you mentally and personally, but it can affect you physically too. For example, sleep deprivation has been known to cause physical ailments and symptoms such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular symptoms, stroke, obesity and more.

While we all know that getting enough sleep is an important component of our mental and physical health, sometimes it's easier said than done. Everything feels harder when you're sluggish and tired.

Obviously, the most important thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to just simply get more sleep. But I'm not here to preach at you. You know what you need to do to stay healthy.

What I am here to do is to help you get through today, this moment, right now.

So, in that spirit, I offer the following five ways to boost your energy fast so that you can get done what you need to get done. And after you do, I hope you'll go take a nap.

Eat Something Good

Eat energy-boosting foods. Skip the candy bars and sweets. As it turns out, Snickers doesn't really satisfy you. In fact, according to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, you should eat a healthy snack that has both protein and complex carbs in it.

Gerbstadt says that snacks like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread or whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese are ideal energy-boosters.

"That combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way," she says. "It boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance."

Give Yourself a Little Pressure

And I don't mean that you should beat yourself up. Next time you're pooped and pushing through the day on autopilot, try a little self-massage.

"Massage stimulates your nerve endings, which increases blood flow and gets your circulation pumping," says Maureen Moon, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association in an interview with Parents Magazine.

Moon recommends the following quick pick-me-up massages.

  • "Using your fingertips, rub your scalp or temples in a gentle, circular motion for two minutes."
  • "Vigorously rub each earlobe between your thumb and forefinger for one minute."
  • "Place your forefingers behind your ears (where the base of your skull meets the top of your neck), press for ten seconds, release, and repeat."

Get a Move On

It may sound counter-intuitive, but try getting up and moving your body.  You don't have to go into full-blown workout mode, but try doing five to ten minutes' worth of exercise. This can be anything from a walk or jog around the block to doing a couple of laps in the pool to dancing around your living room to a good beat. Just move.

"A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise," says researcher Patrick O'Connor, PhD, in a news release. "But if you're physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help."

Drink Some Water

One reason many people feel tired is that they're actually dehydrated. Studies show that most people don't drink enough water throughout the day. Next time you're tired, try drinking a glass of water, and try to stay hydrated throughout the day to maintain your energy levels.

"It's generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink," says a Mayo clinic expert. "By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated."

Citrus is Your Friend

Vitamin C is known to help increase both energy and nutrient absorption--and the scent of citrus is proven to increase alertness and energy levels. So eating citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines (my favorite!) or grapefruit can significantly improve your energy levels in a hurry.

"Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue," says Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta.

A tip from me to you: have a piece of cheese or lean turkey with your orange to help balance the natural sugar.

So how about you? What are your favorite quick energy-boosters? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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